Resolution on Follow‑up to Secretary‑General’s Report “Our Common Agenda” Also Adopted

The General Assembly adopted a resolution on follow‑up to the Secretary‑General’s report, Our Common Agenda, and began a debate on Security Council reform, with delegates calling for galvanized action to realize long‑awaited demands to make the body fit for purpose to face twenty‑first century challenges.

By the terms of the resolution, introduced by Rwanda’s representative, the Assembly welcomed Our Common Agenda — the Secretary‑General’s vision on the future of global cooperation and reinvigorating inclusive, networked, and effective multilateralism over the next 25 years — as requested by Member States in the declaration on the commemoration of the United Nations seventy‑fifth anniversary.

The Assembly asked the Secretary‑General to inform and engage in consultations with Member States on his proposals in the report for follow‑up action to expedite full implementation of agreed frameworks, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  The Assembly also called upon its President to initiate a process of follow-up to enable all Member States to begin inclusive intergovernmental consideration of the various proposals, options, and potential means of implementation, in collaboration with all relevant partners through broad, inclusive consultations.

Opening the debate on Security Council reform, Assembly President Abdulla Shahid (Maldives) said a stronger United Nations is necessary for a sustainable world, and reform will make the 15‑member Council more fit for purpose and will revitalize the Organization as a whole.  Reform will be challenging but not impossible, he said, noting that he had appointed the permanent representatives of Qatar and Denmark as Co-Chairs of the current session of intergovernmental negotiations.  The success of the process now depends on Member States, he said.

Japan’s representative, speaking for the Group of Four (Brazil, India, Germany and his own country), said the first step should be to bridge the differing positions on how best to advance Council reform by spelling out the positions of all actors in a single document.  The framework document produced by the intergovernmental negotiations represents “an encyclopedia” of detailed State and group positions that can guide future discussions, he said, requesting, by the end of the session, a single consolidated paper of attributed positions of all States that can serve as a basis for the related Assembly draft resolution.

Other delegates offered suggestions about how to overcome the current stalemate in discussions.  Italy’s representative, speaking for the Uniting for Consensus Group, said the only way forward is a reform for all that meets every Member State’s interests.  Offering several options for doing so, he recommended finding an agreement on the issues of veto power and membership categories.  Resolving these issues could result in an expanded Council in a short amount of time.  For the Council to reflect the changing world, the logic of such past modifiers as powers and “super” powers, should be abandoned, he said, advocating for an expansion of the number of elected members and not of permanent seats.

Other speakers echoed the call for expanding membership beyond the current five permanent seats held by China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.  Many strongly agreed that the Council must be modernized far beyond its original format established in 1945.

Indeed, the historical basis of the Security Council can no longer serve as an excuse to resist change, said the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who spoke on behalf of the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, calling for improvements in the negotiations’ working methods.

Sierra Leone’s delegate, delivering a statement on behalf of the African Group, reiterated demands for no less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and five non-permanent seats, for the continent’s nations.  The common African position, as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, remains unchallenged and widely recognized.  However, the African Group is disappointed that the Co-Chairs did not fully reference the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration in the Elements Paper, the fundamental pillar of the common African position, and the decisions adopted by African Heads of State and Government.

Kuwait’s representative, on behalf of the Arab Group, said all regional groups should have proportional representation.  In this regard, Arab Group members — representing 400 million people in 22 States — must have permanent representation, as part of the Council’s future expansion, as well as representation in non-permanent seats, he said.  Credibility in the veto power is waning on the heels of an excess use of it, related to issues in the Arab region, he said, adding that the Council must have more effective and transparent working methods, with permanent rules instead of transitional ones.

Also calling for expansion to both the permanent and non-permanent categories, Jamaica’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed hope that a sense of common purpose will continue to guide deliberations.  Underlining the importance of the continuity of the negotiations to instil new life into reform discussions, bridge the divide and deliver more actionable outcomes, he emphasized that Member States have the responsibility to make sure the United Nations is fit for purpose and must move beyond rigid thinking that undermines consensus.

Finland’s representative, speaking for the Nordic countries, called for a balanced expansion of the Council from all regions.  On the issue of veto power, Member States must carefully consider its impact in deliberations on reform.  Permanent members’ veto power has restrained the Council’s ability to act on critical issues, he said, urging all States to join the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct for Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the Political Declaration on Suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity, launched by France and Mexico in 2015.

Some permanent Council members shared their perspectives.  The United Kingdom’s representative said his delegation — which has not exercised its veto since 1989 — supports the Accountability Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct and remains committed to refrain from voting against a credible draft resolution on action preventing or ending a mass atrocity.  Encouraging all Member States — including other permanent members — to do the same, he said disagreement on the veto question should not prevent progress in other areas where reform is possible.  The United Kingdom also supports a modest expansion to a total membership of about 25, including new permanent seats for India, Germany, Japan and Brazil, and for permanent African representation.

China’s delegate said reforms should allow representatives of developing, small-island, African, Arab, Latin American and Asian countries, among others, to play a more prominent role in the Council, with a solution based on consensus among all States.  However, a hasty preparation of documents and text-based negotiations will aggravate divisions between States, he said, noting China’s opposition of sharing official records and live broadcasts of negotiations’ meetings, which will limit the flexibility of States during talks.

Also delivering statements were representatives of India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Turkey, Maldives, Mexico, Ireland, Pakistan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Brazil, Iran, Argentina, Cuba, Belarus and Sri Lanka.

The General Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 16 November, to conclude its debate on the question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council, and to take up reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Equitable Representation/Increase in Membership in Security Council

Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, said there is merit in the increasing calls for reform of the Security Council.  Reform will make the Council more fit for purpose and will revitalize the Organization as a whole, he noted, adding that a stronger United Nations is necessary for a sustainable world.  Reform will be challenging but not impossible, he said, recalling that the Maldives was one of the 10 Member States that introduced today’s item.  He reported that he had appointed the permanent representatives of Qatar and Denmark as Co‑Chairs of the current session of intergovernmental negotiations, emphasizing that the success of the process will depend on Member States.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), also speaking on behalf of the Group of Four (G4) (Brazil, India, Germany and his own country), outlined the Group’s position on Council reform, pointing to the emergence of new States with the capacity and willingness to substantially contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.  These States should be able to make constant contributions to the Council as new permanent members pending their election by the General Assembly, he said.  Commenting on the remarks by some States, who reject the idea of a strict deadline for Council reform, he said the Group hopes that these remarks are not intended to artificial delay or lead to an indefinite postponement of the reform.  Pointing to the framework document with annexes produced by the intergovernmental negotiations, he said it represents “an encyclopedia” that compiles detailed positions of States and groups on the reform, which should guide the discussion on the reform.  He further noted that while some States continue to argue that first an agreement should be reached on the basic principles of the reform substance, the first step is to bridge the divergences by spelling out the positions of all actors in a single document.

The Group confirms its support for the common African position as a whole and especially concurs that it is indispensable to expand the Council in both categories of membership, he said.  He further emphasized that the Group would like to see by the end of the session a single consolidated paper containing attributed positions of all States.  This paper can serve as a basis for the General Assembly draft resolution, he added.

MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), speaking on behalf of the Uniting for Consensus Group, said enhanced, more inclusive multilateralism is required to address current issues, from the COVID‑19 pandemic to Security Council reform.  An effective reform initiative would only strengthen multilateralism, making the Council more representative and responsive to emerging threats and challenges.  Amid the current stalemate, the only way forward is a reform for all that meets every Member State’s interests to transform the Council into a more transparent and democratic body than what was established in 1945.  Calling on all Member States to reflect on whether reaching consensus is within reach, he regretted to note that recent progress has been hindered by hasty decisions made in June.  Arbitrary approaches can only exacerbate progress in negotiations.  Instead, all efforts must foster progress through a negotiation‑based process with the goal of narrowing existing gaps in the negotiating groups, he said, calling on Member States to be flexible and more constructive to overcome current challenges.

Noting that some States are calling for procedural changes to the intergovernmental negotiations, he recalled that the origin of this informal process was initially a response to a stalemate in discussions.  Moving forward, he made several recommendations, including finding an agreement on the issues of veto power and membership categories.  Resolving these issues could result in an expanded Council in a short amount of time, he said, adding that at least one intergovernmental negotiations meeting should focus on ensuring an equitable regional representation with a view to clarifying doubts and bringing different perspectives closer.  Another important step in negotiations is setting a clear agenda on substantive issues, not procedural ones, he said, emphasizing that a reformed Council that fulfils the aspirations of all must be more representative.  For the Council to reflect the changing world, the logic of such past modifiers as powers and “super” powers, should be abandoned, he said, advocating for an expansion of the number of elected members and not of permanent seats.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the L.69 group of developing countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, said the historical basis of the Security Council can no longer serve as an excuse to resist change, stressing that an unresponsive and outdated Council falls short of its responsibility.  Upcoming intergovernmental negotiations framework meetings must build on hard-won gains of the Assembly’s seventy‑fifth session and continue to instil new life into discussions on Council reform.  Calling for needed improvements in the negotiations working methods, she said introduction of record-keeping and documentation will be a critical step in improving efficiency and transparency, helping to ensure small delegations are unhindered in making meaningful contributions.  As the Organization strives to adapt to a new era, she said, “reform of the Security Council will necessarily be an important component in determining the future effectiveness of the United Nations”.

ALHAJI FANDAY TURAY (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Union, said Africa remains convinced of the need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations system, which will significantly contribute to upholding the principles, objectives and ideals of the Charter, for a fairer world based on universalism, equity and regional balance.  The common African position, as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, is widely recognized by the Assembly. Yet, he reiterated Africa’s demands for no less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto, and five non‑permanent seats.  While Africa is opposed in principle to the veto, it is of the view that so long as it exists and as a matter of common justice, it should be made available to all permanent Council members.

The immediate redress of the African demand for an equitable representation in the Council still garners broad support from Member States, he noted.  The co‑chairs appropriately indicated, in their Elements Paper in the section, Elements of General Convergence and Divergence, “the wide recognition and broad support by Member States for the legitimate aspiration for Africa to play its rightful role on the global stage, including through an increased presence in the Council, as reflected in the Ezulwini Consensus adopted by the African Union.”  It also accurately reflected the view that redressing the historical injustice against Africa is considered a priority.  This demonstrates that the common African position remains unchallenged.  Yet the African Group is disappointed that the co‑chairs did not fully reference the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration in the Elements Paper, the fundamental pillar of the common African position and the decisions adopted by Africa Heads of State and Government, he said.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the difficulties stemming from the recovery of the pandemic have demonstrated the need for comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including its three main bodies.  Reform of the Council is a pillar United Nations reform, as the Council is responsible for international peace and security, he said, stressing that its work must be more effective, efficient, transparent and credible.  The Assembly is the sole body to achieve reform.  He stressed the importance of having permanent Arab representation, with all privileges of a permanent seat, as part of the Council’s future expansion, as well as representation in non‑permanent seats.

Credibility in the veto power is waning, he said, noting that there has been an excess use of the veto related to issues in the Arab region.  All regional groups should have proportional representation.  The Arab Group represents 400 million people in 22 Member States.  Turning to the improvement of the Council’s working methods, he said more effective and transparent methods are needed.  There should be permanent working rules instead of transitional rules.  There needs to be a general cohesion of the membership in order to maintain the credibility of intergovernmental negotiations.

JUKKA SALOVAARA (Finland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, called for a balanced expansion of the Security Council from all regions with adequate representation of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.  The bloc would also like to see increased representation of developing countries and improved opportunity for small States to serve as elected members.  In addition, Member States must carefully consider the impacts of the veto in deliberations on Council reform.  Permanent members’ veto power has restrained the Council’s ability to act on critical issues, he observed, emphasizing that veto power should be restrained and come with greater accountability and transparency.  In particular, the use of the veto in situations of mass atrocities is not in line with the spirit of the United Nations Charter, he said, urging all Member States to join the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s code of conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and the Political Declaration on Suspension of Veto Powers in Cases of Mass Atrocity, launched by France and Mexico in 2015.

BRIAN CHRISTOPHER MANLEY WALLACE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that COVID-19 restrictions did not prevent progress in the intergovernmental negotiations and expressed hope that a sense of common purpose will continue to guide deliberations.  It is important to conserve the continuity of the negotiations to instil new life into reform discussions, bridge the divide and deliver more actionable outcomes.  The current membership of the United Nations is not equitably represented on the Council, he observed, calling for expansion to both the permanent and non-permanent categories.  Member States have the responsibility to make sure the United Nations is fit for purpose and must move beyond rigid thinking that undermines consensus, he emphasized.

RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), aligning himself with the Group of Four, L.69 Group and African Groups, said four decades have elapsed since Security Council reform first appeared on the Assembly agenda, even as the geo‑political landscape transformed.  The Council is addressing increasingly complex issues of international peace and security, he noted, but finds itself unable to act effectively without inclusivity.  India favours expansion of Council membership in both permanent and non‑permanent categories, a position supported by most Member States, he said.  This would increase Council legitimacy, effectiveness and responsiveness by ensuring that decisions taken reflect the broad membership.  As for the intergovernmental negotiations framework, he said it is restricted to making repeated statements of known positions, without any effort to narrow differences and without a text, which goes against the basic tenets of multilateral diplomacy.  What is needed is a discussion format free from the cycle of cluster-based statements, allowing every stakeholder to contribute their proposals to a text, which would be updated to reflect them after each round of discussions.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), acknowledging that Security Council reform is a work in progress, added that the process has been “like a vehicle stuck in the snow; the wheels are spinning fast but the car itself has not moved an inch in the last thirty years.”  Stressing the need for an engagement in text-based negotiations, he said a reformed Council must have greater geographical representation and inclusivity, particularly from under-represented regions, such as Africa, and under-represented groups, such as small States.  There must be expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, he said, adding that permanent members have a special responsibility to lead the reform process.  “We have high expectations of permanent members and potential permanent members in terms of the role they play in addressing not only global issues of peace and security, but also issues relating to the management of global commons, such as climate change,” he said, also calling for efforts to improve the Council’s working methods, especially in the areas of transparency, efficiency and   engagement with non-members.

SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), expressing regret that “we are nowhere near agreeing” on substantial Security Council reform, pointed out that similar positions have been repeated over many years without meaningful progress.  Against that backdrop, he called for text‑based negotiations and stressed the need for a Security Council that is more legitimate, representative, democratic, accountable and transparent.  A reformed Council should provide for equitable and fair regional representation that reflects current geopolitical realities.  Turning to the veto, he said that the current veto system should not be used in cases of international crimes of the most serious nature.  Further, it should not be exercised by just one permanent member; rather, it should be invoked by at least two permanent members, supported by three non‑permanent members, and then backed in the General Assembly by a simple majority.

THARARUT HANLUMYUANG (Thailand) called for a Security Council reform that reflects plurality and the evolving reality of the United Nations membership.  Believing that countries in each region know best when it comes to resolving situations in their own contexts, she supported having greater regional representation, as well as greater representation of developing countries in the Council membership.  The international community must accelerate efforts to improve the Council’s working methods, together with ongoing discussions on structural reform.  Such efforts include, inter alia, strengthening partnership and dialogue with non-members of the Council, and enhancing the role of developing countries and non-permanent members within the Council’s structure, which will increase the sense of co-ownership and transparency in the Council.  Her country sees the merit in providing substantive assessment in the annual report to the General Assembly, which should by no means be achieved at the expense of Council unity and solidarity, she said.  She also further reiterated support for the French-Mexican proposal, as well as the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s initiative in minimizing the use of veto rights in cases of mass atrocities.

OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group and the Arab Group, reiterated that the Security Council reform lies at the heart of the multilateralism reform.  An expanded base of the Council membership will lead to better commitment and cooperation, he said, noting that the desired reform can be achieved only by consensus, which will guarantee greater acceptability.  Emphasizing his country’s commitment to the five areas of the reform as outlined in relevant resolutions, he noted that the right to veto remains the cornerstone of the reform process as the monopolization of the right to veto by five States represents a structural imbalance in the Council’s work.  Voicing support for the common African position, as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, he stated that two permanent seats should be reserved for African countries.  Pointing to the recent developments in the intergovernmental negotiations framework, he expressed concern over polarization and transformation of the reform process into a competition over Council membership.  Rejecting a move towards a text-based negotiation, he reiterated his country’s commitment to work with all States to implement a comprehensive reform that leads to a more transparent, credible, and fair Security Council.

CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said negotiations on substantive issues must continue to ensure progress in Council reform.  Voting on amendments made by the Assembly President’s oral proposal would invite divisiveness rather than foster constructive progress.  Discussions must instead enhance agreement on establishing a more transparent Council, tailored to current realities and representing the Organization’s membership.  Ending the under-representation of some regions and groups of States is critical.  At the same time, reform efforts must include modernizing the Council’s working methods and ending the existing veto power hierarchy.  Recalling past negotiating sessions, he said there are already enough candidates to fill non-permanent seats until the year 2054, reflecting both a continued desire of nations to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, alongside a call to enlarge the Council’s membership without having to wait for an entire century for some States to become members.  Going forward, he said, all States must be flexible and exercise mutual respect to achieve concrete results.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica), aligning herself with the statement delivered by Italy on behalf of Uniting for Consensus, noted that Security Council resolutions made no reference to regional organizations until the Council’s elected members led efforts to strengthen partnerships with regional organizations.  Canada, during its 1999‑2000 term, advocated for the establishment of protection of civilians as a new thematic agenda item for the Council, she recalled, adding that the landmark Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security would not have been possible without the efforts of elected members such as Namibia.  Their “elected” categorization does not preclude substantive impact, she said, though many of them are, like her own country “Lilliputians”.  The current membership of the Council is neither fair nor equitable, she said, and expanding the Council in the “non‑elected category” will not solve these problems, it will likely increase them.  It is the elected members who can demand action in advance of crises, and enhance the impact of the Council by focusing on preventative action rather than responding and reacting, she said, adding: “the elected members are our way forward.”

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) aligning himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said it is impossible to deny that there has been a growing gap between the Council’s responsibilities and performance.  Reform must address those shortcomings, rather than consolidating the already existing problems.  Voicing support for an increase in the number of elected seats and the chance for all Member States to be represented on the Council, he added that, the veto — a relic from the end of Second World War — should ideally be abolished.  Turkey also believes in a more equitable representation of the regional groups, including enhanced opportunities for more vulnerable countries.  Noting that the General Assembly is based upon equality of voice and of vote, he said a reform that only serves a minority cannot be imposed on the entire membership.  The insistence on increasing the number of permanent Council members to the benefit of a few Member States has been the major reason for the lack of progress in the reform process, he said, in that regard.

HUDA ALI SHAREEF (Maldives) stated that the composition of the Security Council must reflect equitable geographical distribution, with democratic decision-making processes that consider the views of all United Nations Member States.  The Council’s expansion should include membership for small and developing States, who are facing unique and pressing security challenges.  Reform is necessary to ensure that the Council can proficiently address emerging, non‑traditional security threats such as climate change and sea-level rise.  She added that the Council must also have effective institutional working arrangements with the General Assembly and other relevant United Nations bodies, in order to ensure that its decision‑making process is inclusive and that the Council can address security challenges effectively.

JAMES PAUL ROSCOE (United Kingdom) said his country supports a modest expansion of the Security Council in both permanent and non-permanent membership categories.  Expressing support for the creation of new permanent seats for India, Germany, Japan and Brazil — as well as for permanent African representation on the Council — he also advocated for a non-permanent category expansion that would take the organ’s total membership to somewhere in the mid-twenties.  Those changes would make for a more representative Council, better able to address challenges to international peace and security by drawing on the perspectives and the expertise of a wider range of countries.  On the question of the veto, his country has long maintained that disagreement in that area should not prevent progress in other areas where reform is possible.  Noting that the United Kingdom has not exercised its veto since 1989, he said that as a supporter of the Accountability Coherence and Transparency group’s Code of Conduct, the country remains committed to not vote against a credible draft resolution on timely and decisive action preventing or ending a mass atrocity, and encourages all States — including other permanent members — to do the same.

JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said Mexico’s position on the current topic is based on the normative principles of foreign policy enshrined in its Constitution, namely the legal equality of States.  “We can’t change the past, but we can create a better future for all,” he said, adding that reforms should lead to a better Council, not just a similar body with more members.  Calling for the Council’s working methods to be enhanced, he said it is crucial that the Permanent Members refrain from using the veto in the case of mass atrocities, so as not to prevent the Council from acting.  Calling on those five members to shift away from an “absolute monarchy”, he said reform should not just focus on increasing the number of members but must also take up the matter of general criteria, such as accepting a candidate country’s recognition of the competency of the International Court of Justice and its position on human rights and other treaties.  He added that an increase in permanent members would lead to more competition and marginalize other Member States.

JIM KELLY (Ireland) noted that Ireland has served as an elected member of the Security Council for the last 11 months, seeking to represent the wider views of the General Assembly and its diverse membership.  The fundamental problem is clear — the Security Council no longer adequately reflects the make-up of the United Nations and the realities of the world around us.  “The longer this unacceptable situation persists, the greater the threat to the legitimacy and authority of the Council,” he warned, describing the historic under-representation of countries from Africa as particularly egregious, and supporting their right to a permanent seat.  Small island developing States and other countries in vulnerable situations must also be able to play a role on the Council, that reflects the seriousness and urgency of the situations they face.  Calling for text-based negotiations on the issue as a means of “instilling new life in the process”, he stressed that sticking rigidly to positions for 20 years has not achieved success.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), associating himself with the Uniting for Consensus Group, said comprehensive reform can only be achieved with a Council that is representative of all Member States.  However, despite progress made during the last intergovernmental negotiations, there are wide divergencies on key issues, with no clear division between permanent and non‑permanent members of future Council membership and varying proposals on the veto and on equitable representation.  The negotiation process can only consider a text when key divergences are rectified, he cautioned, adding that any precipitant move to expedite the negotiations could derail the whole process.  Citing the inability of permanent Council members to agree on decisive action, he said that adding new permanent Members will only multiply the prospect of paralysis.  Increasing the number of non‑permanent Members will enhance the equitable representation of the Council.  By contrast, if six permanent members are added, the prospects of representation for the rest of the Member States will be reduced, he said, adding that a Council composed of 11 permanent and 15 non‑permanent seats would result in a 1 to 1 ratio which would be worse than the current makeup.  The United for Consensus proposal to add only non‑permanent Council Members is more democratic and in line with the Organization’s Charter.  Expressing support for Africa’s quest for greater Council representation, he urged Member States to be sensitive to the concerns of the Arab Group, small island developing States, Latin American and Islamic countries, as well.  There is no justification for the creation of new centres of privilege within the United Nations, he stressed, adding that there are no States who can justifiably claim elevated status on a permanent basis.

ZHANG JUN (China), noting that a more efficient Security Council should embody equity and democracy, called upon States to draw on the experience from previous reform negotiations to ensure the process is inclusive, fair, and just.  Over the past year, States held in-depth discussion of the reform and positive progress was made, he said, pointing to a better understanding of discrepancies on the five key clusters of the reform that exist among States.  Welcoming the appointment of new Co-Chairs for the negotiation mechanism, he voiced hope that they will be fair and put Intergovernmental Negotiations on a right track.  All countries should enjoy the outcomes of the reform, he said, noting that the reform should allow representatives of developing, small-island, African, Arab, Latin American, and Asian countries, among others, to play a more prominent role in the Council.  Stressing that the reform should also enhance unity and trust among States, he emphasized that a solution package should be based on a consensus among all States.  Turning to the new round of intergovernmental negotiations, he said it should remain the main platform for the discussion of the reform and adhere to a State-driven principle, in order to expand the consensus among States on the overall direction and basic principles of the reform.  Warning that hasty preparation of documents and text-based negotiations will aggravate divisions between States, he noted that his country is opposed to the sharing of official records and live broadcast of meetings, which will limit the flexibility of States during talks.

SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) stated that the Security Council should end its double‑dealing practices and become a credible and responsible organ that is truly conducive to the maintenance of international peace and security.  This year alone, the Council made an issue of his country’s just and legitimate self‑defensive measures while turning a blind eye to the reckless arms build-up and nuclear proliferation of the United States and its followers, he said.  This itself vividly testifies that the Council does not represent the interests of the international community but has been reduced to a political tool serving the interests of a few privileged countries.  Developing countries must be given more seats in the Security Council so that the international community is represented equitably, he said.  The reasonable option at this stage is to increase the non-permanent membership in the Council.  Calling Japan “an A‑class war criminal State”, he said Japan should not be allowed a permanent seat in the Council.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of Four and the L.69 Group, recalled that after 40 years of the Assembly discussing equitable representation in the Council, it is incomprehensible that a negotiating process has been devised that makes bridging differences impossible.  Failure to address reform in a timely manner will have far-reaching consequences, including jeopardizing the credibility and effectiveness of the United Nations.  Noting that Brazil rarely agrees with Uniting for Consensus, he said his delegation supports the Group’s statement today — that reform must reflect the aspirations of all States.  Anything less will meet with failure, he said, adding that recent efforts in this regard can add energy to advance progress in discussions.  However, the current negotiations process is not producing desired results, he continued, suggesting text-based discussions that may result in agreed language.  In addition, the United Nations can also provide such services as record-keeping and webcast broadcasting, he said, pledging Brazil’s support in putting an end to the cycle of repetition in discussions.

Follow-up to Report of Secretary-General Entitled “Our Common Agenda”

The Assembly then turned to its agenda item on strengthening of the United Nations system and took up the draft resolution “Follow‑up to the report of the Secretary‑General entitled “Our Common Agenda” (document A/76/L.8/Rev.1).

The representative of Rwanda introduced the text, noting that the purpose of the resolution is to follow up on the Secretary‑General report Our Common Agenda because the issues covered in the report are of critical importance for all Member States.  While some colleagues have suggested waiting to initiate the follow‑up process, she said it is important to devote sufficient time to the consideration of the proposals and recommendations contained in the report, pointing out that lengthy procedural processes are harder on smaller delegations.  The process has been guided by the need to be fully inclusive and began with an informal plenary in October.  Subsequently, a document was circulated with possible elements of a draft resolution in mid‑October, and, following additional informal plenary meetings, another revision was submitted based on feedback from Member States.  In that context, she expressed hope that constructive engagement, flexibility and focus on progress will continue to prevail.

The representative of Pakistan, expressing appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for leading informal consultations on the drafting of the resolution, said that if adopted, the text will enable States to consider the rich and substantive report submitted by the Secretary‑General in response to the Assembly’s request.  Noting that his delegation looks forward to the proposals in Our Common Agenda, he voiced hope that the intergovernmental process will be organized in ways that enable States to closely consider and decide on each of the report’s proposals.

The representative of Iran, noting several different views of related concepts, said the successful consideration of the Secretary-General’s report will be based on a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding.  Intergovernmental negotiations must address a range of issues, he said, pledging Iran’s support for constructive discussions.

The representative of Egypt, in explanation of vote before the vote, said his Government would join the consensus and was highly appreciative of the work by the Assembly President and other delegates who developed the draft.  During the high‑level meeting, Egypt had called for avoiding polarization and the past two weeks have demonstrated the best way to proceed was to ensure transparency and work through a spirit of consensus.  Our Common Agenda required future discussion so that its rich proposals will be acceptable to all Member States.  It is time to launch an intergovernmental process and to consider all the proposals brought by the Secretary‑General.  Only through such a process can justice be done to the Agenda.

The Assembly then adopted the text “Follow-up to the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Our Common Agenda”” (document A/76/L.8/Rev.1) by consensus.

In an explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Brazil noted that several of the concrete proposals contained in the report will require time for Member States to consider and analyse properly.  While welcoming consensus on the draft, he said the preparation of the document was done by a process of outreach that was not the same as engaging in negotiations with Member States.  Emphasizing the centrality of Member State ownership, he said consultation among Member States is inescapable.  The Assembly should not endanger trust, participation, and due consideration by approving actionable mandates that States do not have clarity on.

The representative of Argentina, noting that the Our Common Agenda report touches on issues of great importance to the international community, called for in-depth discussions among States on the proposals contained therein.  Noting that the document’s mandate should be the outcome of an agreement between States, she said it will endow a global vision to the report, which reflects the expectations and needs of all.  She further acknowledged the importance of common efforts by the Secretary-General and Member States towards a rich discussion and the subsequent implementation of the resolution.

The representative of Cuba said Our Common Agenda addresses pertinent topics for all States, but a more robust United Nations hinges on respecting the Charter’s principles and purposes.  Emphasizing that the follow‑up process must be led in a balanced, inclusive fashion, she said the approach of putting the interests of some delegations over others must not continue, and all Member States’ views must be considered.

The representative of Belarus said his Government always supports the principle of multilateralism and the United Nations is the main centre for reaching consensus and agreement among nations.  Noting that Belarus joined consensus on the resolution, he thanked the Secretary-General for his report.  The upcoming Intergovernmental Negotiations among Member States must be transparent, unhurried and follow Assembly practices, and the process must follow other multilateral agreements, such as the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  He also pointed to the inviolable character of the Organization’s cornerstone document, the United Nations Charter, emphasizing that all States must meet their obligations under its provisions.

The representative of India said her delegation joined consensus on the adoption, but pointed out that the resolution is a procedural first step in the Member State­‑led consideration of the proposals contained in the report.  The approval and implementation of those proposals must maintain a “Member State‑central” character, she stressed.

The representative of Sri Lanka, pointing to numerous global conflicts and natural hazards, said the time has come to commit to an act of global solidarity and rally around science and knowledge.  Stakeholders must look afresh at the world’s economic and prosperity performance indicators and put in place a stronger multilateral system.  Stressing the need to restore intergenerational trust for the sake of the successful execution of the Common Agenda, he welcomed the consensual adoption of today’s resolution and the supervisory role played by the President of the General Assembly.  He further voiced Sri Lanka’s support for the Common Agenda, in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

Mr. SHAHIB, President of the General Assembly, in closing remarks, reflected on discussions leading up to the resolution’s consensus adoption.  Declaring that “we are not a divided house today”, he expressed gratitude for all delegations in showing a spirit of compromise.

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